Flanked by the warm Mediterranean Sea on one side and rolling hills on the other side, the ancient city of Nice enjoys near-perfect weather all year round. As such, it is a vacationer’s paradise and was once a favored holiday destination of the elite sections of English and Russian society. Nowadays, it attracts millions of tourists to its beaches, museums, cathedrals, entertainment venues, and more. While the tourist crowds flock to the city’s well-known attractions, we recommend taking a break from the usual and indulging in some non-touristy activities in this multi-faceted city. Take in the splendor of Russian cathedrals, admire the quirky design of a city library, go snorkeling off a hidden beach or enjoy wine tasting at a family-owned vineyard – there are plenty of offbeat things to do in Nice. So, come along and let’s explore some of the best non-touristy things to do in Nice, France.
1. Explore Château de Bellet vineyards
Located in the beautiful Côte d'Azur region of Nice and less than half an hour away from the Nice city center, there is a quaint little wine region that produces top-class wines that are renowned the world over. The gently rolling hills of this region are covered in vineyards and warrant a visit to the region’s oldest certified wine producers (AOC), Château de Bellet. Owned by the Bellet family and producing distinct-tasting wines from unique varieties of grapes native to this region, Château de Bellet offers visitors many glimpses into the wine-making business. A visit to the charming Château de Bellet gives visitors a chance to explore the vineyards, visit the wine cellar and the chapel, and finally, indulge in an intimate wine tasting session in their secret crypt.
Château de Bellet vineyards
Address: 482, Chemin de Saquier, 06200 Nice
Website: Château de Bellet vineyards
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10:30am - 12pm, 2pm - 5:30pm (Winter); All days: 10:30am - 6:30pm (Summer)
Price: 22.43 USD
2. Snorkel in the azure waters of Coco Beach
While the beach at ‘Promenade des Anglais’ is always packed with sunbathers, vacationers and the usual tourist crowds, Coco Beach is the perfect hidden spot to enjoy the sun and the sea. While the actual beach is merely a collection of flattened rocks just wide enough to lay down a beach towel, the rocky outcrops and coves near Coco Beach are what are worth exploring while snorkeling. Jump off the cliff, climb down the stone steps or take the iron ladders down into the sea to observe the amazing underwater life as you snorkel on the surface. The water is shallow in some places and quite deep in others, but you might be able to spot seabream, mullets, octopus and even barracudas. You could even contact the snorkeling companies nearby who could take you out to the perfect snorkeling spots near Coco Beach.
Address: Avenue Jean Lorrain, Nice, France.
3. Check out the beautiful art works at Galerie Eva Vautier
Situated in the non-touristy and family-friendly neighborhood of Liberation Quarter, Galerie Eva Vautier is one of the less-crowded art galleries of Nice. But the artwork on display here is second to none. The gallery owner, Eva, is passionate about the artists, their works and the city of Nice. The exhibits in this gallery are constantly changing and feature works of artists who live in Nice, have lived in Nice, passed through Nice or linked in any way to Nice. There are solo exhibitions, duets, modern art, as well as displays of beautiful artwork by self-taught artists. Some artists who have exhibited their work at Galerie Eva Vautier are Sandra Lecoq, Philippe Jusforgues, Gregory Forstner, etc. The beautifully illuminated gallery also has a shop where you can buy original artworks, digital prints, catalogs and art books, all of which make great souvenirs or gifts for friends and family.
Galerie Eva Vautier
Address: 2 Vernier street, Liberation Quarter, 06000, Nice
Website: Galerie Eva Vautier
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 2pm - 6pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
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4. Visit La Tête Carrée library
La Tête Carrée is a colossal city library that is also a brilliant piece of modern art designed by the French sculptor, Sacha Sosno. It is in the shape of a cube or a box placed over a human head. Hence, it is also called ‘thinking inside the box’. Situated at a busy intersection in Nice, this structure has books on three floors inside a central library. Though not clearly visible during the day, the night-time illumination of La Tête Carrée clearly shows the floors of books and it is indeed a beautiful place to visit at night too. The library is not open to the public, but you can certainly check out the impressive building from outside and marvel at the ornamental fountains and admire the blooms in the public garden next to it.
La Tete Carrée
Address: 25 Traverse Barla, 06000, Nice
Website: La Tete Carrée
Opening hours: 24hrs
5. Head down to the medieval street, Rue Obscure
Tucked away underneath a picturesque fishing village of Nice is an obscure medieval-age street, the Rue Obscure. This curious-looking street is made up of a series of vaulted archways that have many branches and passages. Built around the 13th century as a 430-foot-long thoroughfare for soldiers, Rue Obscure has evolved over the years to serve many other purposes like sheltering the people of Villefranche from the German bombardment in World War II, serving as a dank wine cellar for local villagers, and now a tourist attraction. Much of the Rue Obscure is still intact and in original condition, and it also has some restaurants and shops. The street is located just a few steps from the local harbor.
Address: Villefranche-sur-Mer, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06230, Nice
6. Learn the secrets of La Crypte Archéologique de Nice
There are just as many marvels under the city of Nice as there are above the ground. One such underground gem is the La Crypte Archéologique de Nice, which displays the remains of a fortified city that existed centuries ago. The crypt is situated in the center of Nice, right under the Place Garibaldi. This archaeological crypt was discovered in 2006 when construction workers dug up the area to lay down the first tram lines of Nice. Further excavations revealed ruins of an entire city located at a depth of about 6 meters (19 feet). The historic monument was opened to the public in 2012, and visitors are taken around the crypt by means of guided tours. When in Nice, do take a walk back in time at La Crypte Archéologique de Nice.
La Crypte Archéologique de Nice
Address: 1 Place Jacques Toja, 06300, Nice
Website: La Crypte Archéologique de Nice
Opening hours: Wed, Sat, Sun: 2pm, 3pm, 4pm
Price: 5.58 USD
7. Admire the 20th century architecture at St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral
Commissioned by the Russian tzar, Alexander II, in 1903 and opened to the public in 1912, the majestic St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral was built to meet the needs of the growing Russian population that had settled down in Nice at that time. The beauty of this classic Russian-style church lies in its ornate and colorful roof as well as the carvings, murals, sculptures and other artwork inside the church. The French authorities have declared this cathedral a national monument, but the locals refer to it simply as ‘The Russian Cathedral’. While you’re in Nice, do take a stroll down the lush green gardens of the church and admire the beauty of the ornate cathedral structure. If you’re dressed appropriately (as per the strict rules of the church), you could even pop in and experience the grandeur of the interior of this magnificent cathedral.
St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral
Address: Avenue Nicolas II, 06000, Nice
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 9am - 12pm, 2pm - 6pm; Mon: 2pm - 6pm
8. Admire the paintings at Gallery 26
Dealing in fine, modern and abstract art, Gallery 26 is a popular local name that stands out among the crowd of art galleries in Nice. It is a family-owned gallery and showcases genuine and original artwork of artists from and around Nice. Featuring the Provencal landscapes of Monika Meunier, the minimalist art of Mik West, mixed-media art of Jen Miller, and much more. The gallery has beautiful hand-made oil paintings that you can admire, and if you’re lucky, you could even get a chance to meet the artists themselves, for they frequently drop by the studio. You could even pick up an original piece from the gallery that would make for a unique souvenir of your trip to Nice.
Address: 26, rue de France, 06000, Nice
Website: Gallery 26
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 7pm (closed on Sun)
9. Visit the opulent Palais Lascaris
Another majestic historical monument of Nice is the Palais Lascaris, that was once the residence of the aristocratic Lascaris-Vitimille family. It is a wonderful structure constructed in the mid-17th century in the civil Baroque style. The palace is now a Nice city museum, well-known for its architecture as well as its notable collection of musical instruments. As you stroll inside the museum, you are sure to be awestruck by the sheer grandeur of the place – from an ornately decorated staircase to opulent furniture, mesmerizing frescoes, tapestries, carvings, sculptures, paintings, musical instruments to innumerable other beautiful objects that adorn this palace. The museum also has many temporary exhibits that you can explore. So, go on and spend an art-filled evening at Palais Lascaris!
Address: 15 Rue Droite, 06300, Nice
Website: Palais Lascaris
Opening hours: Wed - Mon: 10am - 6pm (closed on Tue)
Price: 11.16 USD
Taking in a 360-degree view of the gorgeous French Riviera as you go glide over the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) is definitely one of the most unique non-touristy things to do in Nice! Offered multiple times throughout the day, this parasailing adventure can be enjoyed solo or with a friend. Begin your adventure at the famous ‘Promenade des Anglais’, where you will receive safety instructions from a knowledgeable instructor. All you have to do next is to strap on your harness and take off into the Mediterranean skies above. Sail over the mesmerizing Baie des Anges and take in the grand vistas of the beautiful city of Nice, the rolling hills and the magnificent mountains beyond it. End your parasailing experience with a dip in the sea before climbing into the boat and heading back to the beach. So, go on and enjoy a family-friendly parasailing experience right here in Nice!
French Riviera Solo or Tandem Parasailing Experience in Nice
Duration: 10 minutes
Non-touristy adventures in Nice, France
If you’re tired of sunbathing, museum-hopping, and going to endless ‘must-visit’ places in Nice, you needn’t worry; there are plenty of offbeat and non-touristy things to do here. We’ve compiled a perfect list of the best non-touristy things to do in Nice, France. Arm yourself with this list and beat the crowds as you experience Nice in a whole new way.
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